Small Victories

The border fight we've been having has faced stiff opposition from both Democrats and some Republicans, a few because they fear convincing Latinos that they are racists but most because they are interested in helping their donors depress the price of labor. Nevertheless, all the news isn't bad; there have been some compromises.
Trump and GOP negotiators led by Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., and his team blocked several moves by Pelosi and other Democrats to fill the deal with anti-wall moves like lowering spending for ICE and slashing the number of “detention beds” to hold criminal illegal immigrants.

“Pelosi lost. She knew her position on detentions beds was unsustainable and only playing to her fringe. She also said no new miles for the wall,” said the source. “She had to step back from all positions.”

Compared to a simple continuing resolution, or CR, with nothing extra beyond current spending levels set in fiscal 2018, Trump gained extra funding for the wall.... “nearly three times as much as would have been available under a CR,” said the source.

On detention beds, the number increased 13 percent over fiscal 2018. And when another $750 million in transfer and reprogramming authority is added in, it represents a 44 percent increase, said the source.

What’s more, the bill provides historic funding levels for ICE and Customs and Border Protection, a rejection of liberal efforts to kill the agencies. It was a 7 percent budget increase for a combined $21.5 billion.
In addition, the NYT reports, the tough border policies are causing some people to give up and go home -- or to choose life in Mexico, which offered them asylum.
[T]housands of caravan members who had been waiting to seek asylum in the United States appear to have given up, Mexican officials said, dealing President Trump an apparent win after a humbling week for his immigration agenda.

About 6,000 asylum seekers who had traveled en masse, many of them in defiance of Mr. Trump’s demands that they turn around, arrived in Northern Mexico in late November as part of a caravan that originated in Honduras. Since then, more than 1,000 have accepted an offer to be returned home by the Mexican government, the officials said. Another 1,000 have decided to stay in Mexico, accepting work permits that were offered to them last fall, at the height of international consternation over how to deal with the growing presence of migrant caravans.
There's reason to be annoyed that the Republican Congress never ponied up money for a wall, and there's reason to be annoyed about the use of unconstitutional emergency powers that no president should really have. If you believe that a nation has to control its borders to remain stable, however, there is some good news too.


E Hines said...

...blocked several moves by Pelosi and other Democrats to fill the deal with anti-wall moves like lowering spending for ICE....

This is a misunderstanding on Bedard's part. Pelosi threw these into the discussions at the last moment in order for the Republicans to knock them down and claim pseudo-victories as distractions from the fact that the Progressive-Democrats were willing to force another partial shutdown (as if that were the only alternative) rather than agree to a reasonable amount of wall money.

Another misunderstanding is this from OP: interested in helping their donors depress the price of labor as if this service ought to be singled out from all the goods and services in a free market economy and explicitly prevented from price competition. It says, whether that's the intention or not, that ordinary men must be too stupid to determine for themselves the price at which they'll offer their service. It harks back to Wilson's remark in a not too dissimilar milieu: not a humiliation but a benefit, and ought to be so regarded by you gentlemen.

And this misunderstanding: unconstitutional emergency powers. What powers would those be?

Eric Hines

Grim said...

The first "misunderstanding" you cite as regards my comment seems to agree with me that it's happening, and on purpose; you just disagree that I should mind. But I do mind. It is not that I wish explicitly to prevent price competition for labor, which I am perfectly fine with insofar as Americans are competing with one another. I am not at all in favor of conspiracies to allow the immigration laws to be rampantly violated -- and to suppress tools like eVerify that would police employment practices utilizing illegal labor. This I take to be a basic disloyalty to the American project, endangering the stability of the polity in pursuit of personal or corporate profit.

Note I did not say "It is wrong to pursue profit," nor "It is wrong to allow competition to reduce the price of labor."

As for the second one, I hold to the old standard that it is unconstitutional for the Congress to delegate its functions to the executive. Most of what the government does is unconstitutional, including this delegation of the power of the purse, as well as additional legislative powers. The Constitution does not provide for these to be Article II powers, and a simple law cannot change that -- not even if, as has happened, it becomes very much the standard practice.

E Hines said...

On the first misunderstanding regarding your comment, I suggest you were unclear, then. We are in complete agreement regarding labor price competition within the scope of existing law. I just object, as I do to Government setting minimum wage by law, to Government setting minimum wage by manipulating the supply of labor. That supply, including supply from immigration, must occur within the bounds of law, not the bounds of political convenience.

As to the second, Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co v Sawyer was a Supreme Court ruling that struck down Truman's seizure of our steel production plants. Justice Jackson, relevant to our discussion, wrote that the boundary between Congressional and Presidential power exists to varying degree in Cases in which the President was acting with express or implied authority from Congress [and] Cases in which Congress had thus far been silent, referred to as a 'zone of twilight'. There's a third case, too, but that one doesn't concern us here.

Where the President was acting with express or implied authority, his power was greatest, and in silence his power was less, but extant. With or without a declaration of emergency, what Trump is planning to do (as far as I can tell so far) is to reallocate funds to the wall that Congress appropriated but for which did not specify a particular purpose. The clear authority (or the silence, if you prefer) was for the President or the relevant agency heads to spend the monies on projects of their discretion and choice.

I see nothing unconstitutional here, except within this hoary and disused (which probably needs to be revived) bound: the Supreme Court is not the sole arbiter of what is Constitutional or not, notwithstanding it asserts so. The other two coequal branches of government have coequal opinions of what is Constitutional or not. If Congress, in conjunction with the President, do not agree with the Supremes' ruling, they need to correct the error.

And We the People need to correct the Congress and the President. The Constitution, after all, is our instrument.

Eric Hines